“What Putin’s war has done is not only try to wipe out the culture of Ukrainians, decimate people and commit numerable war crimes,” Biden said, “but he’s also prevented the grain, thousands of tons of grain that are locked up in those silos ready to be exported.”
The Russian Defense Ministry pledged to open a humanitarian corridor out of the embattled eastern Ukraine city of Sievierodonetsk on Wednesday for hundreds of civilians holed up at a chemical plant and urged Ukrainian fighters “to stop senseless resistance and lay down their arms.”
Eduard Basurin, spokesman for pro-Russian separatists in the region, said Ukraine fighters must “surrender or die.”
Ukraine authorities say about 500 civilians have sought refuge at the Azole plant amid Russia’s aggressive bombing campaign of the city. Russia claims hundreds of fighters are also hiding at the plant.
Mikhail Mizintsev, head of Russia’s National Defense Management Center, guaranteed the “preservation of life” in compliance with Geneva Convention rules for prisoners of war.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Russian and Ukrainian forces are in a fierce struggle for “literally every meter” of the city, about 80% of which is now controlled by the Russian side.
Pope Francis praised the courage of Ukrainians, chastised NATO and provided withering criticism for Russia’s aggression in excerpts from an interview with multiple news outlets last month published Tuesday in Italy’s La Stampa daily. Francis blasted the “ferocity and cruelty” of Russian troops and credited Ukrainians with “heroism” and “courage” for the staunch defense of their country. Francis said NATO was not blameless, citing the military alliance’s eastern expansion.